The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Mice in Council

Lida Brown McMurry (1853-1942) was a primary school teacher in DeKalb Illinois. She was also an author who wrote books for young children. The Preface of her book, Fifty Famous Fables, begins
The fifty fables in this book have been selected for second grade reading because they are easily comprehended by pupils of that grade, and because they teach lessons which every child should learn.

Over the past four years, criticism of the United States and its efforts to fight Islamofascism have grow from a soft murmur of concern to full crescendo of “outrage” from groups as diverse as the UN, the EU, the Russians, the Chinese, the preponderance of MSM, almost all Democrats, some Republicans, Presidential contenders, Hollywood, … need I continue? One thing that strikes me is how ready every critic is to criticize our actions, but how little any of the critics have to say about what specific actions they would take to blunt and/or eradicate Islamofascism. They advocate abstractions—“multilateral approaches,” “negotiation,” “understanding," modification of our own "offensive behavior," and the like—but I think it’s reasonable to assert that the critics have offered very few specifics and even fewer viable alternatives.

But what does any of this have to do with Lida Brown McMurry? In an aside to a commentary at The Belmont Club, a snippet from a fable from Ms. McMurry’s book was presented. I did a little research, and found a more complete version. Although it was intended for second graders, I humbly suggest that every critic of our current efforts against the Jihadis read it. The fable is called The Mice In Council:
What a queer meeting that was down in the cellar! There were big mice, little mice, old mice, young mice, gray mice, and brown mice, all very sober and thoughtful.

At last an old mouse spoke up and said, "Shall we have Mr. Graypate for our chairman? All those who wish Mr. Graypate to be chairman will please hold up their right hands." Every mouse raised a tiny paw.

Mr. Graypate walked out to the front and took charge of the meeting. It was well that they chose him, for he was the wisest mouse in the whole country. Gazing over the crowd, he said, "Will Mr. Longtail tell us why we have met here? Mr. Longtail, come out in front where we can hear you."

Mr. Longtail walked slowly to the front. Then he stood upon his hind legs and said:

"My friends, I think you all know why we are here. Last night Mrs. Whitenose, whom we all love, and all her family were killed by the big white cat. The night before, while Mrs. Blackfoot was out hunting, all her cunning little babies were killed by the same cat. Early this week one of my finest boys was killed. You or I may be next.

"Must we bear this and do nothing at all to save our loved ones and ourselves? We have met here to make some plan for our defense."

Having spoken, Mr. Longtail walked back into the crowd.

Mr. Graypate arose and said: "You have heard why we are here. Anyone who has a good plan for ridding us of the cat will please tell of it. The meeting is open
to all."

"Let us all run at him suddenly when he is not looking for us, and each give him a bite. That would surely kill him," said one brave mouse.

"But how many of us do you think he would kill?" said another mouse. "I will not risk my life nor that of my family." "Nor I"; "nor I"; "nor I," said many other mice.

"Let us steal his food and starve him to death," suggested another.

"That will only make him hungrier for mice," they replied. "That will never do."

"I wish we might drown him," said another; "but I don't know how we could get him into the water."

At last a little gray mouse with a squeaky voice went up to the front and spoke:

"I have a plan that will surely work. If we could know when the cat is coming, we could get out of his way. He steals in upon us so quietly, that we can not escape. Let us find a little bell and a string. Let us put the bell on the string and tie the string around the cat's neck. As soon as we hear the bell, we can run and get out of the cat's way."

"A very good plan," said Mr. Longtail. "We will ask our leader to say which mouse shall put the bell on the cat's neck."

At this there was a great outcry. One said, "I am so little that I can not reach high enough to bell the cat." Another said, "I have been very sick and am too weak to lift the bell"; and so the excuses came pouring in.

At last Mr. Graypate called to the crowd, "Silence! I shall choose no one. Who will offer to bell the cat?"

It was very quiet in the meeting. One after another of the younger mice went out. None but the older ones were left. At last they too went sadly home. No one would bell the cat.

No one … but us.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

4th Generation War

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has criticized VP Cheney’s recent comments that questioned the wisdom of early “disengagement” from Iraq. Pelosi said:
You cannot say as the president of the United States, 'I welcome disagreement in a time of war,' and then have the vice president of the United States go out of the country and mischaracterize a position of the speaker of the House and in a manner that says that person in that position of authority is acting against the national security of our country.

I recently received a Stratfor (a non-partisan consultancy specializing in “providing situational awareness, focused insight and actionable intelligence in the areas of geopolitics, security and public policy”) e-Newsletter entitled: “Iraq: Jihadist Perspectives On A U.S. Withdrawal.” It provides a fascinating discussion of the GWoT (like it or not, from the Jihadists’ point of view, the Iraq War is one battlefield in the GWoT).

Most of those who are most ardent in their belief that we should leave Iraq quickly are also very anxious to “talk with our enemies.” It seems reasonable that before we begin talking, we should first listen to our enemy’s words. Stratfor begins:
Al Qaeda leaders and the jihadist movement in general always have taken a long view of the war, and discussion of a U.S. withdrawal from either Iraq or Afghanistan has long been anticipated. In planning the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda leaders clearly expected that the United States, once drawn into a war, eventually would weaken and lose heart. A study of al Qaeda's philosophy, mindset and planning -- conveyed through the words and actions of its leadership -- is a reminder of just how the current U.S. political debate fits into the jihadist timeline and strategy.”

Of course, you might argue that this represents Stratfor’s considered opinion, nothing more. Okay, let’s consider the Jihadist words themselves:
In a 1997 interview with Peter Arnett, [Osama] bin Laden said, "We learned from those who fought [in Somalia] that they were surprised to see the low spiritual morale of the American fighters in comparison with the experience they had with the Russian fighters. The Americans ran away from those fighters who fought and killed them, while the latter were still there. If the U.S. still thinks and brags that it still has this kind of power even after all these successive defeats in Vietnam, Beirut, Aden, and Somalia, then let them go back to those who are awaiting its return."

After US soldiers’ corpses were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu (think: “Blackhawk Down”) we withdrew our troops from the Somali hellhole. At the time, I thought a different approach would have been called for, but President Clinton chose otherwise. His actions were interpreted by bin Laden as “Americans ran away from those fighters who fought and killed them.” Clinton’s retreat reinforced an earlier retreat by President Reagan, who withdrew from Lebanon (1983) after Hezballah killed over 200 marines in a barracks bombing.

What did bin Laden conclude from all of this and many other incidents, beginning with Jimmy Carter? From Stratfor:
In a February 2003 message, he [bin Laden] said, "We can conclude that America is a superpower, with enormous military strength and vast economic power, but that all this is built on foundations of straw. So it is possible to target those foundations and focus on their weakest points which, even if you strike only one-tenth of them, then the whole edifice will totter and sway, and relinquish its unjust leadership of the world."

Bin Laden and other jihadist strategists often have stressed that the U.S. economy is one of the foundations to be attacked. However, another significant -- and in their view, vulnerable -- target is morale. In an October 2002 statement, marking the first anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion, bin Laden discussed the importance of "the media people and writers who have remarkable impact and a big role in directing the battle, and breaking the enemy's morale, and heightening the Ummah's morale."

One could argue, with some justification, that the public’s low morale at present is due to significant mistakes that have lead to a lack of progress in Iraq. But low morale is also a matter of perception. And public perception has been formed by a predominantly left-leaning MSM that has been unrelentingly negative about everything associated with the GWoT and unremittingly critical of the military and the administration. Although the Democrats have every right to criticize, their strident tone and recent House vote further shape the public’s morale. None of this, of course, is intended to play into the Jihadist’s hands (at least, I hope it isn’t), but it does.

From Stratfor:
An al Qaeda military strategist and propagandist, Abu Ubeid al-Qurashi, expounded on this concept in an article titled "Fourth-Generation Wars," carried by the organization's biweekly Internet magazine, Al Ansar, in February 2002:

"Fourth-generation warfare, the experts said, is a new type of war in which fighting will be mostly scattered. The battle will not be limited to destroying military targets and regular forces, but will include societies, and will seek to destroy popular support for the fighters within the enemy's society. In these wars, the experts stated in their article, 'television news may become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions.' They also noted that 'the distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point.'"

Al-Qurashi went on to extol jihadist successes in fourth-generation warfare, in settings ranging from Afghanistan to Somalia. He also noted that, like the Soviet Union, the United States was not well-suited to fight that type of war. And he predicted that al Qaeda's ideal structure for, and historical proficiency in, fourth-generation warfare ultimately would secure its victory -- despite the fact that jihadists were outgunned by the Americans in both types and quantities of weapons. Al-Qurashi said that while the U.S. military was designed and equipped with the concept of deterrence in mind -- that is, to deter attacks against the United States -- the guiding principle was not applicable in the struggle against a nonstate actor like al Qaeda.

"While the principle of deterrence works well between countries, it does not work at all for an organization with no permanent bases and with no capital in Western banks that does not rely on aid from particular countries. As a result, it is completely independent in its decisions, and it seeks conflict from the outset. How can such people, who strive for death more than anything else, be deterred?" he wrote.

And so, for those of you who want to talk with our enemies and find “common ground” or “mutual interest,” I would first suggest that you reread each of the quotes in this post. Once you done that, consider whether Cheney (like him or not) is right or wrong when he said:
I think, in fact, if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we'll do is validate the al Qaeda strategy. The al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people. In fact, knowing they can't win in a stand-up fight, try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home, and then they win because we quit. I think that's exactly the wrong course to go on. I think that's the course of action that Speaker Pelosi and Jack Murtha support. I think it would be a huge mistake for the country.

Everytime we’ve retreated from Islamofascism since 1979 we’ve energized the Jihadist movement and suffered an even more egregious attack down the road. There is absolutely no reason to believe that a retreat from Iraq (regardless of how screwed up the situation there is) will lead to a different outcome. The Jihadists tell us it won’t, and if we’re smart, we’ll listen.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Binary State

In talking with many of my friends on the Left, I get the feeling that their outrage over the war in Iraq and their absolute desire to “bring the troops home” at the earliest possible time is predicated on a subliminal belief that once the war in Iraq “ends” (for us, at least), we'll be well on our way toward "peace." Intellectually, they know this won't happen, but emotionally, I think they want to believe that once one war ends, peace will be at hand.

That’s also why they’re outraged at Israel for defending itself again Hamas, Fatah, and Hezballah, and threatening action against Iran. In fact, only recently, John Edwards, Democratic candidate for President, implied that because Israel may choose to act against Iran (a country that has threatened to nuke it), Israel is a threat to world peace! (He has since scurried to recant any misunderstanding about that implication, now denying that he made it). After all, the West must do everything in its power to make peace with murderous, barbaric thugs—must in essence, give peace a chance—and the war against Islamofascism will end.

And with the end of the war, the frightening specter of a dhimmi world dominated by Islamists—a world of misogyny, religious intolerance, homophobia, religious censorship, no freedom of speech, etc., etc.—will evaporate before their eyes and all the world’s children will live in a multicultural utopia. It'd be nice, but history indicates that it simply will not happen.

Wretchard of the Belmont Club comments on war and peace, 21st century style:
Perhaps the idea of War and Peace as a binary state has passed. It would be interesting to see whether an equivalent concept exists among rival tribes in parts of the Middle East or whether they are accustomed to living in a twilight state of neither war nor peace, the condition depending on the time of day.

If, as now seems, the Tribes have imposed their way of war upon the West, then we will long for a definite peace the way Redcoats in North America hankered after the clash of orderly ranks in the open field. Long will we seek it, but seek it in vain.

Then Israel will have proved not the exception, but rather the new rule. And the landscape though apparently open, may little by little come to be divided into besieged demesnes; a new Dark Age arising on the foundation of the new tribalism. And the wonder of it all is that it will have been built in our faces. Perhaps this is the way civilizations finish; when the consensus to go on ends. If the West does not have the inner desire to continue then perhaps it has taken the subconscious decision to wind it all up.

As disturbing as this assessment is, it may be the collective reality for the remainder of my life and possibly, the lives of my children.

The enemy we face is implacable, bent on world domination. They may achieve their goals or they may not. The outcome, thankfully, is in our hands, not theirs. Their implacability, their barbarism, their religious certainly can be overcome, but not by appeasement or “understanding” or negotiation. None of those things will lead us back to the binary state we all desire. Why? Because Islamofascists and their sympathizers—possibly 100 million people or more—don’t want a binary state … until they prevail.

And what of the Moslem nations that are known as our “friends”—the same friends that fund Al Quaida, teach hatred of the West in their schools and media, vilify Jews and other non-Moslems? Or our non-Moslem “friends” who work behind the scenes to subvert every attempt we make to counter our mutual enemies? Again, Wretchard comments:
Just as the idea of a binary state of war and peace may have gone by, so to the idea of a "friend". Maybe all we have now, and can ever hope to have, is friends in some respect. Friends depending on the time of day and whether or not you are looking. Those who object to the futility of fighting for or against such inconstant allies should logically accept the equal futility of talking to the same. What a pass we have come to.

Monday, February 19, 2007


It appears that the MSM, Hans Blix, Nancy Pelosi, and the usual cast of characters fear that we’re about attack Iran. After all, the Bushies have ordered the arrest of Iranian provocateurs in Iraq and moved two carrier task forces into the Persian Gulf—certainly provocative and, dare I say it, threatening moves.

In a wonderfully wry commentary on all of this, David Warren writes:
I admit, I am about to present a paradox, that may take up to a minute to think through. But it will be time well invested.

The reason one utters a threat, to another person who is threatening to hurt us, is not, usually, because we want to fight. It is, usually, because we don’t want to fight. We are hoping to persuade this enemy -- who must be an enemy, because he threatened us first -- to back down. We are explaining to him, as succinctly as we can, why it is that he might not want to do what he says he wants to do. One may -- here comes the paradox -- utter a threat with entirely pacific intentions.

Warren concludes that the subtlty of this paradox seems to have escaped the usual cast of characters, who view any action by the United States as immediately belligerent, and ironically, see any action by the Iranians as, well, nothing to be concerned about ... at least not at the moment.

Warren comments on those who view our current actions as belligerent:
For such people, a threat is just a threat, a warlike act -- unless it is directed towards President Bush, or some more local bogeyman, in which case it becomes a natural expression of a nearly cosmic antipathy. The most blood-curdling cries from Iranian ayatollahs, to exterminate all Americans and Jews in a nuclear holocaust, can be shrugged off as just a little overdone. But should the U.S. president reply, “We will defend ourselves,” he will provoke a great glowing rage among them. How dare Bush utter threats?

They do not think of themselves as siding with, e.g. the ayatollahs. Not even the Iranian man in the street does that. They think they are on the side of pellucid virtue. But the paradox there is: no, they are on the side of the ayatollahs.

There’s no doubt that we’re sending tough signals to Iran, and it’s about time we’ve done so. More importantly, it appears to be working.
… [Iranian] rulers are from all sides becoming aware of the havoc being played on Iran’s economy by both the threat of regional war, and the remarkable success of a few key Bush administration manoeuvres (including in world oil markets). On one side of the current dissension are those who, like President Ahmadinejad, insist that America is a paper tiger, and that although its sanctions are beginning to bite, even before U.N. measures are applied, “wiser heads” among U.S. Democrats will abandon them shortly. To this Iranian view, as to the general view of both Sunni and Shia fanatics, America will never have the stomach for a fight, so they should keep pushing against the paper tiger until it crumples.

But there are indications that many in the background leadership, including the “supreme guide”, Ali Khamenei, think quite differently and have been preparing Iranian public opinion (such as it is) for some rather humiliating climb-downs. In other words, they begin to sense that Iran may be the paper tiger: an inevitable conclusion if you look at the two rivals, on paper.

So … should we back off and be less “threatening,” try to use reason and kind words with Amadinejad and the Mullahs, “negotiate with our enemies,” or continue with what seems (for the first time in quite a while) to be working. I’d say to the Bushies—this is the first nuanced, smart thing you guys have done in some time. Keep it up.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Today, members of Congress will vote to express their displeasure with the Bush administration’s “surge” in Iraq. It’s telling that their vote will have no weight—a perfect example of those who pontificate without the need to act, those who recommend without the weight of responsibility, those who look toward their own self-interest (re-election) without regard to a longer strategic view. Perfect!

Wretchard of the Belmont Club sums up the current situation in his inimitable way:
Back in 2002 the public knew relatively little about the real causes of the War on Terror. Both those who diagnosed it as caused by a superficial lack of freedom in the Arab and those who saw it in the classic Leftist terms as poor innocent people fighting big bad America had it wrong. So did those, I think, who saw the world in traditional diplomatic terms of states that could be bought off.

Hence, while the Bush administration objectively made many mistakes in pursuing the War on Terror, it can't be judged against our retrospectively more complete knowledge. Rather, the relevant question to ask is at each juncture in the past, which politically viable alternative [Bush's or his opponents'] was better than the other. ….

In looking at the Surge the same calculus unfortunately applies. When it was first mooted, my first reaction was that is was an exercise in futility with only an outside chance of success as it was publicly characterized. Its only virtue was that it was somewhat better than whatever Obama, Murtha and Nancy Pelosi had in mind.

But I think the public has since learned more on the subject. Some from reading and others by direct experience. And they are no longer happy with the mediocrity served up by their leaders at their best and the arrant nonsense espoused by them at worst. There is in this blog thread none of the enthusiasm of bright-eyed partisans so much as the stoic resignation of diners who have chosen the tough beef over the rancid chicken for the nth time in a roadhouse whose menu never varies and whose cooking never improves.

But however slowly the wheels may finally have begun to move. The public has a clearer idea of what the enemy is. A better view of the long road ahead. A more cynical view of how compromised many of our intellectual institutions are. A reduced willingness to take the politicians at their word.

I don't think the Surge means much in and of itself. But I do hope it indicates that we are coming out of our mental freeze. That we are beginning to realize just what we are up against and what we must do in order to survive. And as always, better late than never.

And so, the vote in Congress will occur, and the MSM will exult in the “renunciation” of the Bushies. But the thing that matters, the War in Iraq and the broader and far more important GWoT will not disappear. And if, as Wretchard states, we “are coming out of our mental freeze,” maybe in the thaw we’ll realize that if we choose to fight, we must also choose to win. And if we choose to win, we must do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal. And if we do what is necessary, the Islamofascist evil that we face will be vanquished. And that would be “perfect.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

If at first ...

It has been my position in this blog that negotiations with psychopaths and liars is a bad policy. In general, it amounts to nothing more than kicking the can down the road, hoping that bribes from our side and empty promises from theirs will delay any real action until that action becomes someone else’s problem. But as time passes, a bad situation gets no better. In fact, it usually metastasizes into something that can be much, much more dangerous and nearly impossible to fix.

Today, the Bush administration announced that a deal had been negotiated with North Korea. Their efforts follow in a long line of US negotiations with Kim Jong Il and his father (both bona fide psychopaths). Over the years, the Kims have signed treaties with the US and with Russia, promising to not build nuclear weapons. The Russians built the NoKos a nuclear reactor in the late 1980s in exchange for a nuclear non-proliferation promise from the NoKos. The NoKos reneged.

In the early 1990s under the Bush-41 administration, the US removed tactical nukes from the Korean peninsula in return for a NoKo promise not to build nukes. We pulled the weapons, and the NoKos pulled out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1993.

The Clinton administration took the reigns and negotiated a “framework” that provided food and fuel and two nuclear reactors if only the NoKo would stop their drive toward Nukes. In 1994, Bill Clinton, promised that "North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program." This spectacular peace of diplomacy is still in effective (oops, forgot to mention that the NoKos tested a nuke in 2006 … oh, never mind.)

But wait, we spent hundreds of millions in “humanitarian aid” to the poor starving NoKos. That a good thing, but the starvation has been caused by Kim -- a leader spends billions on a million man army and has no problem whatsoever starving more than 1 million of his own people to death. Certainly a worthy partner for negotiation.

That brings use to the present. Now it appears that the Bushies have cut a deal with the NoKos. Same general terms -- we bribe, they promise, we act resolute, they proceed as they like.

In an article that provides a more complete treatment of this epic saga of diplomacy, John Podhoretz comments:
… it appears that the Bush administration has now gone down the same path as everybody else - paying Kim a bribe in exchange for promises of change. We'll hear a lot about how this deal will be enforced with great determination. But it probably won't be, because Kim has the whip hand. Everyone is sure he's crazy, and everyone is fearful he will start a regional war in Asia if he doesn't get his way.

Why on earth should Kim keep up his end of any bargain? He's running one of the most successful extortion rackets in the history of the world. Why would he give up now?

And for those who still believe that we should negotiate with Iran, just remember that Kim’s extortion racket will look like child’s play when compared to the games to be played by the Imams in Tehran.

But hey, the NoKo negotiations have gone so well over the past 20 years, what the heck. Let's talk!

Monday, February 12, 2007


There is a growing propensity for those on the Left to demonize Israel or the suggest in subtle ways that if Israel would just submit to Arab and Islamic demands (for its eventual extinction) all of the problems we currently encounter in the ME would magically disappear.

In many of my posts, I’ve discussed the Left’s penchant for reaction formation—a psychological “defense mechanism in which anxiety-producing or unacceptable emotions are replaced by their direct opposites.” (Wikipedia) In this case, Islamist ideology is “anxiety-producing” and those on the Left (possibly at an unconscious level) recognize that the hatred and irrationality espoused by Islamofascist leaders cannot be dealt with through calm negotiation – Islam’s position is non-negotiable. So, rather than dealing with that reality or (heaven forbid, criticizing Islam for allowing itself to be hijacked by a death cult), it's much easier to blame parties that will listen to reason and that can be influenced by rational argument. We need only suggest (indirectly and with nuance) that if we appease the Islamists, maybe their hatred will dissipate. A major step toward appeasement is to feed them Israel. Luckily, Israel has a say in all this and will not go quietly.

Hence, the left-leaning media’s on-going attempts to demonize everything Israeli, to soften the image of the terrorist thugs (Hamas and Hezbollah) and even characterize them as “oppressed.” This institutional reaction formation will make it easier to sell Israel down the river a bit later.

In case any reader here subscribes to the “Israel is at the crux of ME problems” argument, it might be worth pondering the words on one of the Islamists’ world leaders—Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, as reported by Matthias Küntzel:
In his first speech on the guiding principles of his politics, Ahmadinejad made this clear: "We are in the process of an historical war, . . . and this war has been going on for hundreds of years," he declared in October 2005. This is a war, then, that is not fundamentally about the Middle East conflict and will not end with the elimination of Israel. He continued: "We have to understand the depth of the disgrace of the enemy, until our holy hatred expands continuously and strikes like a wave." This "holy hatred" is boundless and unconditional. It will not be mitigated by any form of Jewish or non-Jewish conduct--other than subordination to sharia and the Koran.

In his letter to George W. Bush, the Iranian president described his objective: "Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems." The letter also tells how the liberal democracies will be shattered. Even here (if slightly diluted), the ideology of martyrdom--You love life, we love death--is propagated: "A bad ending belongs only to those who have chosen the life of this world. . . . A good land and eternal paradise belong to those servants who fear His majesty and do not follow their lascivious selves."

Of course the MSM, in its own institutional reaction formation, has tried to characterize Ahmadinejad as a buffoon, someone not to be taken seriously. After all, we hear about unrest in Iran and the fact that Iran’s religious leaders are distancing themselves from Ahmadinejad. No worries, the MSM implies, the guy is going down.

Really. Well, why not consider the words of someone higher in the Iranian leadership. Again from Küntzel:
Anyone inclined to dismiss the significance of such statements might want to consider the proclamation made by Mohammad Hassan Rahimian, representative of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who stands even higher in the Iranian hierarchy than Ahmadinejad. A few months ago, on November 16, 2006, Rahimian explained: "The Jew"—not the Zionist, note, but the Jew--"is the most obstinate enemy of the devout. And the main war will determine the destiny of mankind. . . . The reappearance of the Twelfth Imam will lead to a war between Israel and the Shia."

The, uh, twelveth Iman he’s referring to? According to the Iranian leadership’s brand of Islam, the Iman reappears when there’s a apocalypse (think: Iran’s future nuclear weapons).

Hmmm. An apocalyptic death cult with nukes. Not to worry, those on the Left (and a few on the Right) suggest that all we really need to do is negotiate with them. In the words (paraphrasing here) of John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Hillary – we need to talk with our enemies to see if we can find “mutual interests.”

We really don’t need to talk. All we really have to do is listen.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


The atrocities now occurring daily within Gaza—kidnappings, hospital bombing, innocent children killed regularly, schools being invaded, firefights in the streets of so-called “refugee camps”—are examples of terrorist politics turned inward by two terrorist gangs, Fatah and Hamas, the elected representatives of the Palestinian people.

I’m curious … why has the media given these events such little play? Where are the heart-rending pictures (some doctored) of Palestinian innocents being killed coming from the NYT, the LAT, the Boston Globe, the AP, Reuters, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, etc., etc., etc? And where are statements of concern or condemnation from the human rights organizations—Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN commission on Human Rights, etc., etc., etc?

Guess there’s no story here. Guess the depraved Pali on Pali violence isn’t newsworthy, but every laughable “truce” gets a headline. After all, unless Israel is directly involved (and it isn’t) the above noted arbiters of morality and justice seem to go eerily quiet. There’s a message there someplace.

Update (02/09/07):

This morning, the MSM breathelessly reports that Fatah and Hamas have signed yet another truce, brokered by our friends the Saudis: Reuters reports:
Nizar Rayyan, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, welcomed the agreement reached in Mecca but said Hamas shunned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's call for Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who will form the new cabinet, to abide by previous peace accords.

"We will never recognize Israel. There is nothing called Israel," he told Reuters. "We, in the Hamas movement, will not abide by anything."

Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan said: "The recognition is not an option at all, is not discussible."

It was unclear if Rayyan and Rudwan were speaking on behalf of Hamas as a whole or expressing personal opinions.

Oh ... I'm sure it was just a personal opinion. After all, Hamas has been sooo "moderate" over the past few decades.

And then, the most interesting quote:
"We have agreed with the Saudis to market this agreement internationally. Our (Saudi) brothers are in constant contact with the Americans and Europeans," Hamas government spokesman Ghazi Hamad told Reuters.

Amazing, an honest statement! After all, marketing -- and nothing else -- is what this "truce" is all about.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Have you ever wondered why Greenland, the Island in the North Atlantic covered with Glacial ice is called, well, “green” land? I thought it was probably a rueful joke. But I was wrong. Greenland was very green during the last Global Warming period (A.D. 800 – 1300). The Vikings actually farmed there. Later the earth began to cool, and the green land slowly became white with ice and snow.

Global warming more than 800 years ago? Must have been auto emissions, or industrial pollution. No, that can’t be. It must have been all the CO2 humans pumped into the atmosphere. Oh wait, that was before the industrial revolution when the population of the earth was about 300 million, just more that 5 percent of today’s.

Hmmm. Curious.

But today, it’s different, at least that’s what Al Gore and the MSM have told us, bolstered by a recently released UN climate report, based on computer models that cannot accurately reproduce today’s climate using 100 year old data (a key indicator for the accuracy of a mathematical models is their ability to produce known results from known data), insists that catastrophic climate change is upon us and worse, that the industrialized nations, primarily the US of A, are the culprits. For some scientists, this argument has transcended science and become a religion … and that’s the problem.

It’s important to note that there is absolutely no debate that the world is getting warmer. Simple year-to-year temperature measurements and trend analysis indicate that it is. The debate is over why, and despite what you hear from the MSM, there is plenty of controversy within the scientific community on this subject.

To illustrate, consider Timothy Ball (PhD in Climatology from the University of London, 32 years as a professor of climatology at the University Of Winnepeg):
Believe it or not, Global Warming is not due to human contribution of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). This in fact is the greatest deception in the history of science. We are wasting time, energy and trillions of dollars while creating unnecessary fear and consternation over an issue with no scientific justification.

... Temperatures declined from 1940 to 1980 and in the early 1970's global cooling became the consensus. This proves that consensus is not a scientific fact. By the 1990's temperatures appeared to have reversed and Global Warming became the consensus. It appears I'll witness another cycle before retiring, as the major mechanisms and the global temperature trends now indicate a cooling.

... As [Richard] Lindzen [an atmospheric physicist and a professor of meteorology at MIT, who is also critical of catastrophic climate change] said many years ago: "the consensus [about climate change] was reached before the research had even begun." Now, any scientist who dares to question the prevailing wisdom is marginalized and called a sceptic, when in fact they are simply being good scientists. This has reached frightening levels with these scientists now being called climate change denier with all the holocaust connotations of that word. The normal scientific method is effectively being thwarted.

Now, Ball could be wrong and quotes from one scientist do not prove that the climate change "consensus" is incorrect, but voices such as Ball's, and there are many, do not generally get media attention or are spun so that the "climate change denier" label is attached. Those of us who worry that bad science lies behind climate change claims readily express uncertainty -- it's the only honest response to a complex issue.

But Luddites and Leftists are convinced to an absolute certainty that the West is to blame, mostly because it fits nicely into their political worldview --- rapacious capitalists raping mother earth.

A calmer review of the literature indicates that they might be right, but it’s likely they’re wrong. Here’s why.

Worldwide temperature oscillates on a multi-century cycle, mini ice age, followed by warming period, followed by cooling and so forth. Historical evidence, not models, indicates that this is irrefutably true. But the warming and cooling periods of the past had nothing to do with industrialization or human derived pollution of the modern kind, because there wasn’t any.

Jack Kelly reports:
Leaks of the [UN] panel's report coincided with publication of two books which link climate change to a long, moderate solar cycle.

In "Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years," Fred Singer and Dennis Avery present evidence of 600 moderate warmings in the last million years.

In "The Chilling Stars," Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder discuss how cosmic rays amplify small changes in the sun's irradiance, creating 1- to 2-degree Celsuis cycles in temperatures on earth.

Sun spot activity has reached a 1,000-year high, said scientists affiliated with the Max Planck Institute in Gottingen, Germany, and the Institute for Astronomy in Zurich, Switzerland, in a 2004 report. More sun spots mean Earth will grow warmer; fewer mean it will turn colder. Solar radiation has increased by 0.05 percent per decade since the 1970s, concluded a NASA-funded study in 2003.

Odd that we didn't hear about those books or see their authors interviewed as part of MSM reports, since they do have a bearing on the subject. Oh well.

Since warming and cooling have been going on for millennia, it seems reasonable to assert that a cause other than modernity or industrialization or CO2 is to blame. The sun, unlike those things, is known to have a profound impact on the earth, has been around for a long time, and is at least as likely a cause.

But it can’t be, because Al Gore and the UN panel, along with the MSM and many other scientists have developed a “consensus.” All I can say is, in the years before Gallileo proved otherwise, there was almost a universal "consensus" that the earth was flat – in fact it became religious doctrine. Sound familiar?

In a way, the junk science associated with the current religious fervor about climate change is a good thing .. if it leads to energy independence, pollution control, alternative energy source development and environmental awareness. But it could also lead to things that will stunt the growth of rich and developing nations, increasing living costs for those of us in Industrialized nations and making the world’s poor even poorer -- all without any appreciable impact on climate.

Or, maybe naming Greenland “green” was just a joke, and this is the beginning of "catastrophic" climate change. History (and a lot of reasonable science) tells us it isn’t, but there’s a “consensus,” and that’s all that matters.

Friday, February 02, 2007


My wife, a primary teacher with many years of classroom experience, is now a Supervisor of Student Teachers at Florida Atlantic University. In that position, and another she holds for substitute teacher training, she works with young student teachers while they teach in a real classrooms, providing them with pragmatic mentoring that makes them better teachers. She’s very good at her job.

Like most teachers, she brings home stories, lots of stories. I can’t count the number of times that she’s mentioned this student teacher or that student sub lament about low starting pay for teachers.

“Man, I could make more working at McDonald’s,” says a young man about to graduate with a degree in education.

“I can’t afford to live alone, I’ll have to have roommates,” says a young woman who is six months away from a full-time teachng job.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Jay Green and Marcus Winters assert that teachers aren’t underpaid … my goodness, they may even be overpaid! It’s an analysis that is intellectually sloppy and not up to the WSJ’s normally high standards of analysis.

Green and Marcus begin:
Who, on average, is better paid--public school teachers or architects? How about teachers or economists? You might be surprised to learn that public school teachers are better paid than these and many other professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school teachers earned $34.06 per hour in 2005, 36% more than the hourly wage of the average white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty or technical worker.

What an insightful analysis! Boy, I’ll bet that college professors make a bit more on an hourly basis that “the average white collar worker” with considerably less responsibility (think cancelled classes when you were at college), almost no accountability, and a work week that would look like a vacation for most people (remember I was a prof, so I don’t speak from ignorance).

But Green and Marcus don’t stop there:
It would also be beneficial if the debate [regarding teacher salaries] touched on the correlation between teacher pay and actual results. To wit, higher teacher pay seems to have no effect on raising student achievement. Metropolitan areas with higher teacher pay do not graduate a higher percentage of their students than areas with lower teacher pay.

Probably true. But does a resident internist at a hospital provide better medical diagnosis if she is paid a higher salary? I doubt it. Would a police detective solve more crimes if he was compensated at a higher level? No evidence of that. Would higher pay be a catalyst that drives a physical therapist to build more client muscle. Not likely. Green and Marcus’ argument is vacuous.

Teachers have only so much control over student performance. There are larger forces at work within a school and most are outside the control of a teacher. If the students come from abusive homes, if they come from a culture that does not value education, if they act out in class, they will struggle in the classroom. And although it’s politically incorrect to raise the subject, if the student has below-average intelligence, even the best teacher in the world will struggle to achieve politically acceptable results.

As I’ve watched my wife over her many years as a teacher, I’ve learned that the very best teachers don’t do it for the money. Teaching truly is a calling. But wouldn’t it be nice if teacher salaries reflected the importance of their work. Then again, life’s not fair.

It is, however, a disservice to many underpaid and very dedicated people to imply that they somehow earn too much. What unmitigated nonsense.

The Dark Path

The United States came to Iraq to rid a beleaguered country of a homicidal tyrant and his minions, to eliminate a regime that has murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, used weapons of mass destruction on its own people, invaded a neighboring country, and threatened others. We succeeded in that goal. Saddam Hussein is no more, hanged like a common criminal.

We also entered Iraq in an effort to help the Iraqi people choose democracy and freedom and a path into a world of prosperity and calm. We did this because the Middle East is a breeding ground for Jihadists who threaten virtually every liberal Western value. These barbarians survive only where chaos reigns, and the best disinfectant for them is democracy and freedom. Our goals were noble, but with hindsight, far too optimistic.

We hoped that the centuries’ old feuds between Sunni and Shia Arabs would be set aside and a new Iraq would emerge. We were wrong. Forces from the outside, al Queida on the Sunni side and Iran on the Shia side did everything in their power to foment civil war. They have succeeded. Worse, too many Iraqis have chosen the dark path of death squads, mass revenge, and suicide bombings. They are leading their new country into civil war, and the forces of darkness rejoice.

Someday, Iraq may emerge from this chaos a better place. Someday, the people of Iraq may understand that our efforts were noble, and that they were given a rare chance to journey to a better place. But for now, they have chosen a different journey, and it is not one that we can join.

We are saddened that many good people will suffer as Iraq uses violence to purge its hatreds. But our best efforts to referee their conflict have failed. It is time to allow Iraq to take the path it has chosen, recognizing full well that it will lead to more death, to ethnic cleansing, and quite possibly, to a an Islamist dictatorship that will not be much better than the dictatorship we displaced.

Iraq is one battle in a much larger war against a worldwide Islamofascist ideology. The battle in Iraq began well, but ended poorly, and it is reasonable to assert that we have lost.

I can only view those who take pleasure in our failure in Iraq with contempt. It is, quite simply, a tragedy. Not for us, we’ll return to fight Islamofascists another day, but for millions of decent Iraqi people, who want nothing except calm and peace.

We will leave Iraq, sooner rather than later. But before you rejoice or crow about your long-time opposition to the Iraq war, understand that every battle lost makes Islamists stronger, and every incremental victory they achieve (whether real or imagined) strengthens their resolve to destroy every value you hold dear.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Arkin's Arrogance

In what has to be one of the most ridiculous pieces written in recent memory, William Arkin, a Washington Post columnist specializing in “National and Homeland Security” writes about an NBC News story that reports comments by US military people in Iraq who express consternation with the anti-War criticism that has become the drumbeat of many MSM sources:
I'm sure the soldiers were expressing a majority opinion common amongst the ranks - that's why it is news - and I'm also sure no one in the military leadership or the administration put the soldiers up to expressing their views, nor steered NBC reporter Richard Engel to the story.

I'm all for everyone expressing their opinion, even those who wear the uniform of the United States Army. But I also hope that military commanders took the soldiers aside after the story and explained to them why it wasn't for them to disapprove of the American people.

Friday's NBC Nightly News included a story from my colleague and friend Richard Engel, who was embedded with an active duty Army infantry battalion from Fort Lewis, Washington.

Engel relayed how "troops here say they are increasingly frustrated by American criticism of the war. Many take it personally, believing it is also criticism of what they've been fighting for."

Apparently, Arkin is upset, yes upset, that the troops are allowed to note that they don’t appreciate the sentiment of many who criticize the Iraq war, their role in the war, and the government leaders who have tried to prosecute the war. Recognizing, of course, that every one of the critics fervently “supports the troops.”

It amazes me how thin skinning Left-leaning media critics of our current policies actually are. They are allowed to criticize, to be sanctimonious, to be arrogant, to be factually wrong (more often than I can count). But let someone respond forcefully and have the temerity to suggest that another opinion might, just might, have equal weight, and it’s shut-up please.

Don’t believe me? Arkin continues:
These soldiers should be grateful that the American public, which by all polls overwhelmingly disapproves of the Iraq war and the President's handling of it, do still offer their support to them, and their respect.

Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order.

In a follow-up piece, entitled, ironically enough, The Arrogant and Intolerant Speak Out, Arkin apologizes for a few over-the-top, anti-military comments in his first column, but continues to whine about soldiers having opinions, quoting angry responses from military men and woman to his column and then making pathetic arguments to blunt them. Free speech, anyone?

It’s true, the “arrogant and intolerant” have spoken, but to find out who the “arrogant and intolerant” actually are, Bill Arkin and his MSM pals ought to look in the mirror.

An Ugly American

In many ways, John Kerry is a caricature of a spoiled, silver-spoon rich kid. The senator lost his run for the Presidency and as a consequence, has decided to trash the country he professes to love so dearly. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week, Kerry sounded the alarm. The Boston Herald quotes from his speech (on the stage at the same time with ex-Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, but what the heck, we do, after all, have to make nice with Islamofascist regimes worldwide):
“When we walk away from global warming, Kyoto, when we are irresponsibly slow in moving toward AIDS in Africa, when we don’t advance and live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy . . . I’ve never seen our country as isolated, as much as a sort of international pariah for a number of reasons as it is today.”

Talk about duplicity and hypocracy! It appears that people who share Kerry’s worldview revel is distortion and half truths.

Victor Davis Hanson comments:
Kerry was clearly directing his criticism at the Bush administration, but the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate treaty, was first rejected by the U.S. in 1997. Ten years ago, President Clinton wisely chose not to refer the treaty to the Senate. Even that was not enough for outraged senators, who went ahead anyway to vote 95-0 to oppose any international agreement on climate control like Kyoto in which China, India and other developing countries would remain exempt. Kerry himself cast one of these votes -- an ironic example of what Kerry now calls "duplicity and hypocrisy."

I’m certain this is just another example (in this case inverted) of Kerry being against something before he was for it. He’s getting smarter all the time.

Again from VDH:
Nor was the United States "irresponsibly slow" in regard to African AIDS relief. In fact, the Bush administration has devoted $4 billion annually to combat AIDS in Africa. That's triple what the Clinton administration budgeted. That generosity deserves praise, not scorn.

By the way, during his entire tenure as a US Senator, The Boston Herald reports:
The total number of bills filed by Sen. Kerry to spend more in Africa? Zero.

And in an ironic gesture that only John Kerry could pull off, he accused his own country of being a “pariah” while uttering not a word about Mohammad Khatami’s Iran (remember, Khatami was right there on stage with our intrepid senator) – that's the same Iran that is developing Nuclear weapons, has UN sanctions imposed, and openly advocates the destruction of Israel. But heck, we’re the ones who are “isolated” and John Kerry is darn concerned about it.

All of this is classic John Kerry, and it wouldn’t be worth mentioning at all except that Kerry represents the view of many in the Democratic party and almost everyone on the Left. After all, if a US senator says it, it must be true. Worse, Kerry appears to revel in his effort to criticize the USA, not only on the floor of the senate, but in every international forum he can attend.

I find it amusing that people in Massachusetts (possibly with some justifcation) often ask, "How could people in the red states vote for Bush?" I have a question for them: How can you vote (repeatedly) for John Kerry?

Is it worth asking why he does this? VDH offers an explanation:
… it is intellectual laziness. It is always easier to cite America's flaws to applause than to take the time to explain the nature of its rare morality to catcalls. In truth, the United States has never been richer or more generous. Its military is preeminent, protects vulnerable allies and fights extremism worldwide. Immigrants risk their lives to reach our shores.

But we are in a deep spiritual crisis when a recent candidate for our presidency either cannot, or will not, patiently explain that to the world. Instead, Sen. Kerry, the new ugly American abroad, glibly misleads a global audience that his own America is a "pariah" -- a verdict that is as embarrassing to us as it is stupid for him.

It's more than stupid, it's revolting.